Total Pageviews

Sunday, January 31, 2021

From WCYB-TV: DB basketball tribute to Douglass game highlights

 From WCYB-TV: DB basketball tribute to Douglass game highlights

Douglass Tigers win again! Spirit lives on in basketball tribute game to kick off Black History Month in Kingsport

Dobyns-Bennett's Jahson Dennis (34) fires off a shot in heavy traffic during the second half against Tennessee High during Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport Saturday night.

This story courtesy the Kingsport Times-News.  
Photos by Todd Brase, Todd Brase Photography.  Used with permission.


KINGSPORT — Paying tribute to the Kingsport Douglass High School Tigers, Dobyns-Bennett’s boys basketball team roared to a 73-54 victory over Tennessee High on Saturday night at the Buck Van Huss Dome.

Tennessee High's Brandon Dufore (20) drives the lane against Dobyns-Bennett's Ben Phillips during Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport Saturday night.

Dressed in the blue and yellow uniform design worn by Kingsport’s former Black high school, the Indians (17-4, 7-1) took control early in the Big 7 Conference game against the Vikings, who wore black and orange jerseys to represent the Slater High School Wolves.

Although the makeup game was an important one in the league race, it meant much more to Jahson Dennis and the Tribe.

Dobyns-Bennett's Jayson Dennis shoots a free throw against Tennessee High at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport on Saturday night.

“All of the team, we recognize we’re playing for the people who came before us and we love it,” Dennis said. “It was great being able to represent them and get them a win tonight. We’re a really close team, unselfish, and we love sharing the ball with each other. We love to go out there, have fun and represent this community well.”

Jonovan Gillespie dribbles down the court under the watchful eye of a Tennessee High player during Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport. 

The Tiger Tribe had plenty of fun, taking a 14-8 lead after one quarter and going into halftime with a 29-18 advantage. They kept the margin in double digits throughout the second half.

The Indians effectively shared the basketball. Jack Browder finished with a game-high 19 points, Dennis had 18, Malachi Hale totaled 12 and Ben Phillips tallied 10.

Tennessee High's Wade Witcher (11) attempts to shoot during Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport.

“It was a fun night with lots and lots of energy representing the Douglass Tigers,” Browder said. “It’s hard to guard all three of us — Jahson, Malachi and I are all 6-4 or 6-5. If we share the ball, there’s bound to be a matchup problem with one of us. No way they’re going to stop all three of us.”

Browder and Dennis praised the play of the bench for maintaining the Indians’ defensive intensity. Coach Chris Poore was happy with the high energy, especially coming off a tough win over David Crockett the night before.

“I was pleased with our guys’ effort and energy. They did a good job distributing the ball and trying to involve everybody,” Poore said. “It was a tough stretch, especially with the back-to-back games and some guys out of the lineup. But these are huge games you have to be locked in and focused to win.”

Tennessee High's Braden Wilhoit puts up a shot against Dobyns-Bennett during Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss dome in Kingsport Saturday night.

Braden Wilhoit, Brandon Dufore and Luke Cottrill had 13 points apiece for the Vikings (8-13, 3-5).


Dobyns-Bennett's Jabrea Johnson (22) drives to the basket against Greeneville during the Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport Saturday night.

Greeneville's Lauren Bailey (10) controls the ball in play against Dobyns-Bennett during Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport Saturday night.

Lauren Bailey had a go-ahead, 3-point play with 22 seconds left and then blocked a potential game-tying 3-point shot as time expired to lift the Lady Devils (13-5) over the Lady Indians 58-55.

Delana DeBusk, who scored a game-high 21 points, added a free throw with 15 seconds as part of the final margin. Tambryn Ellenburg and Bailey scored 11 points each.

Greeneville's Lindy Carter (11) puts up a shot against Dobyns-Bennett's Jaden Potts (1) during Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport Saturday night.

Dobyns-Bennett (12-8) was wearing light blue uniforms to honor the Douglass Tigerettes. Greeneville had its usual black road uniforms instead of those honoring the George Clem Lady Wolverines they originally planned to wear for the game.

Caitlyn Wallace led the Lady Indians with 13 points. Elle Francis had 11 and Emilee Lane netted nine, although Greeneville held D-B to a single point over the final 4½ minutes of the game.

Dobyns-Bennett's Jabrea Johnson (22) pulls in a loose ball against Greeneville during Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport.

Down 16-8 at the end of one quarter, D-B rallied to within one, 25-24, at the half. The Lady Indians grabbed a 43-40 advantage into the final period before the cold streak.

Dobyns-Bennett's Olivia Doran (0) controls the ball against Greeneville during Douglass Tribute Night at the Buck Van Huss Dome in Kingsport.

“Our kids battled and won the middle quarters. We just didn’t finish,” D-B coach Bill Francis said. “Those kind of games are the only way you’re going to get better We hadn’t been in many (tight) games like that and we needed that.”

As far as the final play, Francis said the credit belonged to Greeneville coach Annette Watts and Bailey.

“We had a chance late and we got the look we wanted,” the coach said. “But that Bailey is an absolute tremendous player. She knows the game and jumped the screen. She made the play when she had to make a play and did it perfectly. That’s what good players do.”


Below are other pictures from the

boys and girls games:

Friday, January 29, 2021

Ronnie R. Releford remembrance

 Ronnie R. Releford departed this life on January 25, 2021.

Services will be conducted on Saturday, January 30, 2021 at 1:00 PM at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Kingsport.

The family will receive friends at 12:00 PM until the hour of service.

Burial will follow in the East Lawn Cemetery.

The family will also receive friends at 2301 Alameda Place in Kingsport.

The family wishes to extend a special thank you to the doctors, nurses and staff at Ballad Holston Valley Medical Center and Church Hill EMS Services.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at or

Professional services and care of Mr. Ronnie R. Releford and family are entrusted to Clark Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service, Inc. Kingsport, 423-245-4971.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Ronnie Releford announcement

 Ronnie R. Releford departed this life Monday, January 25, 2021.  

The family is in the process of making arrangements at this time through the Clark Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service, Kingsport. 

School Tradition: D-B Basketball again will pay tribute to Douglass High School This Weekend


(This story courtesy the Kingsport Times-News by Calvin Sneed, Community Contributor to the newspaper)

For years, Kingsport has known Pastor Geraldine (Smith) Swagerty as the founder of the Kitchen of Hope.  She also founded the Full Gospel Mission Church on East Sevier Avenue.  Some folks in Greeneville where she's originally from, know her as the founder of the Full Gospel Mission Church #2 in that city.

But many people in Greene County also knew her growing up as Geraldine "Miss Patsy" Smith, a lightning rod forward on the George Clem High School basketball girls team back in the mid 1950's.  Clem was Greeneville's African-American high school with a familiar team cheer:  
"Say it louder:  George Clem High."  
"Say it louder:  GEORGE CLEM HIGH!"  
Anything louder than that was deafening.

The former player also remembers those years fondly and the childhood basketball rivalries.

"I got to shoot a lot and I scored a lot of points," she recalls.  "The Douglass School in Kingsport was one of our biggest opponents."  Douglass was Kingsport's African-American high school.

This weekend, the Douglass-Clem girls rivalry is reborn in a 21st-century tribute to the former schools.  The current Greeneville High School varsity girls team will honor the George Clem Lady Wolverines when they play the Dobyns-Bennett girls on Saturday, January 30, 2021.  The Lady Indians will salute the Douglass Tigerettes by dressing out in throwback Gold and Blue uniforms of that former Black school.

Right after that game, the Dobyns-Bennett boys will wear the former Douglass High School Tigers gold and blue uniforms in their game against the Tennessee High Vikings from Bristol.  The Vikings will be clad in the colors of Bristol, Tennessee's former all-Black Slater High School.

It's the second year in a row for the tributes.  All of the former Black high schools in upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia closed for integration in 1965 and 66.  Last year's tribute to Douglass by Dobyns-Bennett in Kingsport was one of the most remembered celebrations in the local sports world... the night when one winning basketball program paid tribute to another winning program just next door, with throwback uniforms and a special halftime presentation.

This year's version will be scaled-down because of COVID-19 restrictions.

"We continue to honor the amazing basketball program of Douglass," says D-B athletic director Frankie DeBusk.  "They played tremendous basketball at that school.  To recognize that accomplishment, we started the tribute last year with a great deal of enthusiasm among the Douglass alumni and the Kingsport community.  This year, COVID will make everything go online, but it won't dampen our excitement to celebrate the Douglass basketball teams of distinction."

The only difference in this year's tribute is that there will be no public attendance in the Buck Van Huss Dome.

"Because of the governor's orders and the TSSAA requirements for COVID-19 protection, only family members of both teams' players and the news media will be allowed in the arena," says DeBusk.  "COVID is also the reason why we are playing two different conference teams on the same night.  No tickets will be sold.  We really hate doing that because we love to have fans and visitors around us, but it's not our rule."

Since there will be no attendance allowed at Saturday's games, the DB-Tennessee High boys game and the DB-Greeneville girls game will both be live-streamed at 5 PM (girls) and 6:30 pm (boys).  Fans can go to scroll down and click on "Upcoming Events."   Then, click the links for the appropriate games and follow the instructions to view the games via YouTube.

The Douglass Tigers of Kingsport won the Tennessee state high school boys basketball championship for Black schools in 1946, and their teams usually placed high in the former Tri-State Athletic Conference.

Although the D-B girls will be adorned in the blue and gold of Douglass for their game, their opponents, the Greeneville Lady Devils will not be dressed in the former George Clem colors.  That choice was unavoidable, according to Lady Devils Coach Annette Watts.

"Unfortunately, I allowed some of our seniors to take their George Clem uniforms home when we paid tribute to the school in a game last year and I didn't get them back," she says.  "I'm missing four Clem uniforms and I don't have enough for our girls to play in."

"Rather than dress only part of the team in the blue and gold of Clem, we opted to just wear our regular uniforms for that game, but we are definitely excited to be part of the salute to the Douglass Tigerettes.  We love the game and are tickled to be part of the tribute.   Meanwhile, I'm going to try to get a new set of throwback George Clem uniforms for next year," she says.

Last year's Douglass tribute in Kingsport was considered a huge success, with dozens of former Tiger and Tigerette players and Douglass alumni all watching the D-B players dressed in the Douglass colors play both Jefferson County girls and boys teams on the DB hardwood.  The Lady Indians in their Tigerette uniforms won their game in a squeaker 34 to 33.  The boys clad in the Douglass gold and blue were winners over the Patriots also in a close game 59 to 57.

To this day, members of the Douglass alumni speak with pride of seeing their school colors in action again.

"I'm glad the school wants to continue what's becoming a new tradition," says Douglas Releford, president of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association.  "It helps heal the wounds of segregation from years ago, both teams on different sides of town, equally good, champions all... yet separate."

Releford calls Saturday's game a fitting bridge to Black History Month in February.  "It's good that last year wasn't just a one-time tribute, that hopefully events like this can continue for years to come.  That's an overall benefit to everybody," he says.

DeBusk already sees that benefit.

"We want to make sure that the tribute to the Douglass players and the school alumni becomes a new tradition in Kingsport athletics," he says.  "That could include presentations, athletic games, recognitions and other events and displays.  We already have ambitions of having another huge tribute and get-together in 2022.  We have a great community that is excited about Douglass, learning more about the school all the time and celebrating their wonderful program."

DeBusk also paid respects to two late former Douglass basketball players who attended the tribute last year.  Both William (Bud) Hickman and former Kingsport vice mayor and alderman Richard Watterson played for the Douglass Tigers back in the 1940's and were among the oldest Douglass players still alive.  Both passed away almost two months apart in November and January.

William ("Mr. Bud") Hickman, above, and former Kingsport vice mayor Richard Watterson, below, being interviewed by ABC News correspondent Will Carr for a story on the DB Tribute to the Douglass Tigers that aired on the ABC-TV network last February

"The tributes are why we need to remember them and also the survivors of those great Douglass teams," he says.  "We're sad when they're no longer with us, but I'm sure these two players are both smiling in Heaven, looking down and knowing that we're going to keep this new tradition for Douglass High School going."

Meanwhile, the tribute games are not lost on Pastor "Miss Patsy" Swagerty.   As sports families go, she remembers the names of most of her teammates from the 1950's, but says, often she had to sneak out of the house to play the games with them.  "Momma didn't like me playing basketball because she said the shorts were too revealing," she says.

"I had some real good looking legs," she laughs.

Although she's lived most of her life in Kingsport, "Miss Patsy" says all of the former Black schools in upper East Tennessee are worth remembering.  But thinking ahead, she says she's honored that the girls team from Greeneville will be representing her hometown school, the George Clem Lady Wolverines on Saturday.  "I appreciate them doing that for my old school."

And in a rival gesture, she reminds us where her heart is.

"Thank God for George Clem!"

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Calendar of the 2021 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Days of Commemoration in Kingsport-Tri Cities

Please click on the pictures below to make them bigger -  See you here!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Bernice Brice remembrance

Ms. Bernice Brice of Kingsport, 90, born September 24, 1930 passed away peacefully in her home on January 4, 2021.

Funeral services will be conducted on Friday, January 8, 2021 at 1 PM at the Shiloh Baptist Church.  The family will receive friends from 12 Noon until the hour of service.  Burial will follow in the Old Kingsport Presbyterian Cemetery.

For your health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, all guests must wear a mask and we ask that you please do not attend if you are showing symptoms of illness.  CDC and state of Tennessee regulations will be followed.

The family is being served by the Clark Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Inc.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Richard Harvey Watterson, Sr. remembrance

Johnson City – Mr. Richard Harvey Watterson, Sr., 94, of Johnson City and Kingsport departed this life on Monday, January 4, 2021. 

Mr. Watterson was born on May 19, 1926 in Hawkins County, the youngest of six siblings, to the late James Wiley Watterson and Margaret “Maggie” Armstrong Watterson.

Richard Watterson showing the Douglass School sports trophies to ABC News Correspondent Will Carr for a national news story on the DB Tribute to the Douglass Tigers Basketball Teams, Feb. 1, 2020.  Richard was what he called "a small forward" on the Tigers basketball teams.

Mr. Watterson was educated in the Kingsport School System, graduating from Douglass High School in 1943 and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Livingston College.  He enlisted in the U.S Navy serving from 1943 to 1950 as a Seaman First Class.

Richard Watterson with Kingsport Chamber of Commerce President Miles Burdine, at the DB Tribute to the Douglass Tigers Basketball Teams, Feb. 1, 2020.

On May 20, 1973, Mr. Watterson was duly and legally elected to the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen.  He was the first African-American man to serve the city of Kingsport as an Alderman.  He served 24 years on the board, also serving as Vice-Mayor until his retirement in 1997.  He also worked hard with the Kingsport City School Board. 

Not only did Mr. Watterson served as a faithful, loyal and dedicated member and Trustee of the Bethel AME Zion Church. He also served on the boards of the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency, the Sequoyah Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis Club, Kingsport Elks Club, Kingsport Esquire Club, the Optimist Club and the Boys and Girls Club of Kingsport.  

Richard and Barbara (Miss Bobbie) Watterson at the Great Golden Gathering Reunion Banquet, August 29, 2015

Mr. Watterson was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Love Watterson; a daughter, Elaine M. Watterson; a son, Ronald W. Watterson; his sisters, Ella Mae Martin, Savannah Harris, Jessie Welch and Ruchael Watterson Charles; his brothers, Walter Watterson and Herman “Buster” Watterson.


Mr. Watterson is survived by his children, Richard Watterson, Jr. (Regina), Gregory Watterson (Thomas), Ricky Watterson and Gail Petterson; step-children, Charles Love, Jr. Lynn Love, Richard Love (Mary), Steven Love, Robert Love (Linda) and Elizabeth Murrey (James); grandchildren, Reggie Petterson, Kandes Tobin (Ron), Princeton Watterson, Kennedy Watterson, Carolyn, Shelly, Ekcia and Brandon; a host of great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Richard Watterson enjoying himself with family at the DB Tribute to the Douglass Tigers Basketball teams, Feb. 1, 2020

A military graveside service will be held at 2 PM on Monday, January 11, 2021 at the Mountain Home National Cemetery in Johnson City.  Pastor Hugh Hale will also officiate. Family and friends will serve as pallbearers.  Those wishing to go in procession to the cemetery are asked to meet at the Dobyns Bennett parking lot no later than 1 PM Monday.


The Carter-Trent Funeral Home in Kingsport is serving the Watterson family.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Franklin "Frankie" Price announcement


Franklin "Frankie" Price departed this life on Saturday, January 2nd, 2021.

The family is in the process of making arrangements at this time.

Clark Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service in Kingsport is serving the Price family and friends.

Richard Watterson arrangements

Mr. Richard Harvey Watterson, Sr. of Kingsport went to be with the Lord on Monday, January 4, 2021 at the VA Medical Center in Johnson City.

A military graveside service for Mr. Watterson will be held on Monday, January 11, 2021 at the Mountain Home National Cemetery in Johnson City, TN.

The Carter-Trent Funeral Home is serving the Watterson family.

More details to follow.

Sons and Daughters Alumni Meeting canceled

With all the deaths that we have had this week, I am cancelling the meeting for this month (January), and we will meet the second Saturday in February, 2021.  That will be February 13th, 2021.  Please mark your calendars.

Douglas Releford

President, Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni

Richard Watterson passes away

Richard Watterson was first elected to the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen in 1973 – the first African-American to do so. He served until 1997 and during his long tenure on the board, Watterson served as vice-mayor from 1981 to 1995.

Richard Watterson, the first African-American elected to the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen, passed away on Monday because of COVID-19 complications.  

He was 94 years old.

According to his youngest son Ricky, the elder Watterson passed away at 4:30 AM at the VA Medical Center.  Arrangements will be made through the Carter-Trent Funeral Home.

Ricky Watterson described his father as having true compassion and love for all people., and someone who tried to tell the truth and be honest at all times.

"I think he had true compassion for every citizen as a human being.  (He) didn't see black and white and didn't care about black and white.  He just cared about everybody, it shows and I think the people cared about that," Watterson said.  "He believed in everybody, it didn't matter about ethnicity or anything and when you get past that, you're able to touch people and relate to people."

Watterson was first elected to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in 1973.  He served until 1997 and during his long tenure on the Board, Watterson served as vice-mayor from 1981 to 1995.  According to city officials, Watterson often garnered the top vote count during many of those city elections when his name was on the ballot.

"I think he lasted 24 years on the BMA by telling the truth, by listening to people and by truly wanting to help people," Watterson said of his father.

During his tenure on the BMA, Ricky Watterson said his father promoted the Sunshine Law, helped pass liquor by the drink, and served on the task force that worked to address issues in the Riverview community.

"The biggest thing is, Dad had a compassion for people, he listened and he took it to heart," Ricky Watterson said.

Watterson graduated from Douglass High School in Kingsport, having played on the basketball team there.  He attended Swift Memorial Junior College in Rogersville and Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina.  He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946, with most of his time spent on the U.S.S. Nassau.

At the age of 12, Watterson went to work for Harvey Brooks, a local businessman who built and lived in the Allandale Mansion.

Richard's mother Maggie and his aunt Savannah also worked for the Brooks family.  Richard Watterson ultimately worked for the family for 20 years, working as a chauffeur. butler and caretaker.

Watterson served on a number of state and local boards, including the State Board of Legal Services and the Board of Directors of the Kingsport Boys Club.

He was also the State Commissioner for Human Development, the first chairman of the Riverview Branch Boys Club, the President of the Esquire Club, and a member of the Kiwanis Club and the Optimist Club.

In 2016, the year Watterson turned 90, the BMA proclaimed April 6th as "Richard Watterson Day" in Kingsport.

"Richard was the first African-American elected on a citywide basis after integration, and he was re-elected every term until he decided not to run again.  That speaks volumes of the job he did in consistently representing his constituents," said former city manager Jeff Fleming.  "He was a visionary who had a unique way of convincing ordinary people to do extraordinary things."

Former Kingsport Board of Education Paul Montgomery said Watterson worked hard for all the citizens of Kingsport and especially hard for the school system in its efforts "to make the city schools the best we could have.  He was a friend of education.  He was our go-to person."

"Our community has lost a pioneer in local government," Montgomery said.  He helped mentor me in politics.  He was a good man."